Spent 4+ days last week - in the midst of a heat wave - doing the historical tours in Philly and Gettysburg, coupled with college vists to some PA schools in which my daughter is interested.
Thanks to advice from Chowhounders, our Philadelphia eating adventures were fine. We did a Saturday lunch in the Reading Terminal market after walking around it for an hour (which gets the digestive juices flowing!). At one of the Amish-run booths (Fisher's) we split a home-made soft pretzel ($1.50) that we saw being made from scratch (dough to finished product). Eating it fresh out of the oven with big salt crystals adhering to its golden-hued crust was a real treat! Would've gotten more but Rick's Philly Cheese Steaks was calling our names! Rick's is apparently a Philly tradition, because the line was long and never seemed to let up. The steaks were generously portioned on very fresh hoagie rolls, as were the mushrooms, onions and peppers that came on mine. At $15 for 2 full-sized cheese steaks and 1 soft drink, it was a bargain! Like Fisher's, half the fun was watching this culinary treat being created. We completed our lunch break by visiting Capogiro, a few blocks away from the market at the corner of 13th and Sansom St. (as recommended below). Capogiro specializes in home-made gelato, all made on the premises and most of which were 'exotic' flavors (e.g. wildflower honey, bittersweet chocolate, tiramisu, etc.) The proprietess did not need any prompting from us to offer us many small tastes of a variety of flavors. The 4 of us made our choices and each got the smallest size (2 flavors per cup for $4.40 each). Rich, sinful, calorie-laden, and expensive...but worth every cent and extra pound!
Too bad our dinner at the Gettysburg Brewhouse was not even a fraction as good! After a hot day touring the battlefield, my wife and I were in the mood for beer with dinner. We arrived at about 6 on a weeknight. With the town was crawling with tourists, the empty parking lot should have been our first clue that we were making a mistake. The menu looked innocuous enough. We each ordered a different brew, and our kids both ordered homemade root beer. None of it was served much above room temperature, and all of it was barely palatable. My dinner was three assorted sausages that had been grilled (one was overdone) with a brown sauce with overdone (overboiled?) onions and canned applesauce. The only saving grace was the delicious roasted potato salad on the side. Wife ordered an open-faced crabcake sandwich served with a plain salad with pretty good honey lime dressing. Son's mozzarella sticks were fine. Daughter ordered "pasta florentine" - cheese-filled tortellini with artichokes and mushrooms on top of lettuce ($14.95). She describes the dressing having an odd and bitter taste, with about 10 pieces of tortellini. She could not finish the dish due to its taste. Service was bland; our server had no personality and was generally unexpressive. We will never return.
Lunch in Carlisle the next day was pleasant at The Back Door Cafe, on the main drag between the court house and Dickinson College. Very generous portions of classic cheese calzone ($5.95), Mediterranean veggie wrap with a side of delicious gazpacho ($8.25), Greek BLT club served on European style focaccia bread ($7.25), and a chicken caesar wrap with greek side salad ($7.25). Very popular small spot with friendly wait staff and owner. Quite a contrast from the prior evening!